“These streets will make you feel brand new/ Big lights will inspire you…”
Every time I spend a weekend in NYC, I feel increasingly conflicted about that city.
It seems like everything I love about New York City is the same thing I hate about it. There really is no place like it. I love the way it feels so huge that it just envelops you, physically and psychologically. The buildings tower over you, the energy in the city is constantly crackling, there are endless possibilities of things to do and people to meet. You feel completely anonymous there, just a speck in a sea of drama and fast-paced activity. It’s the center of everything– any movie or play you want to see is there, any shop or museum you want to go to, any kind of food you want to eat or classes you want to attend, it’s right there.
At the same time, I think this is exactly what would drive me nuts about living there. It’s so huge and full of possibilities that being there for three days just tires me out. How do you ever achieve a sense of satisfaction there when you’re a “grass is always greener” person like me who constantly weighs what you could be doing that’s better than what you’re already doing?
Most of my friends in D.C. live within a one-mile radius, and there’s only a handful of bars and restaurants that we really enjoy, so it makes decisions really easy. If I’m with my two favorite people at one of my usual haunts, like Bar Pilar, I don’t spend the whole night thinking about all the other things that are going on in the city that I might be missing out on, because I know that there’s probably not that much. In NYC, if I’m at a bar in the Village that’s not that cool, it makes me want to rip my hair out because I know that I’ve got college friends drinking on a boat out in Chelsea, work friends in town at a party on the Upper West Side, a close friend from home heading to a really interesting off-Broadway show, etc., and what am I doing wasting my time at a place like this when I could be doing any number of cooler things right now that would only require a short expensive cab ride?! So many people to call, so many neighborhoods to cab to, and so little money in my wallet! It’s mentally exhausting.
D.C. is a slow and easy city. There’s not nearly as much going on, the buildings and houses are all short enough that you can see the rest of the city and trees around them, and there’s such a slew of boring political-types that decisions about who to surround yourself with are a no-brainer. The cool people in D.C. find each other easily and gloop together. I can live in a giant air-conditioned house in a residential neighborhood with tree-lined streets in D.C. for the same amount of money that would get me a sweaty apartment the size of a postage stamp in NYC, and let’s face it: I could NOT survive without central A/C.
Sometimes I crave the hustle-and-bustle and crackling energy of New York, and nothing fans that flame more than visiting some of my favorite people who live there and have carved out really interesting lives for themselves there. But it’s always a little bit of a relief to come back to my relatively sleepy, intelligent, half-Southern little city where I can really relax for a minute and stop thinking about what I could or should be doing.